The Difference Between Assault vs. Battery

Man standing in the street with a baseball bat

Outside of the realm of criminal law, the terms “assault” and “battery” are often used interchangeably, leading to a common misunderstanding that they denote the same act. In most states, assault and battery are distinct legal concepts with unique penalties. However, in the state of Texas, charges for both assault and battery are charged as assault.

Assault charges in Texas (and therefore, battery as well) are, in their simplest terms, defined as causing “bodily injury” to another person. This includes physical contact, such as hitting or restraining someone, but can also include even the threat of violence. 

Due to the unique nature of these Texas laws, this article will aim to explain the differences between assault vs. battery in Texas, to provide a clearer understanding of these two critical components of criminal justice.

What are the elements of assault and battery in Texas?

In most states, assault occurs when a person is threatened with serious bodily injury, and battery occurs upon any serious contact or actual sustaining of injuries. But like we said, in Texas, assault and battery are both classified as assault. 

So, what exactly are the Texas assault laws and what are the specific elements of an assault and battery charge* in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code 22.01, assault is defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person. There are also circumstances that can lead to an assault charge being upgraded, or aggravated, such as if the person had a deadly weapon on them at the time of the incident.

In order for a conviction for assault in Texas to occur, all elements of the offense must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must prove that:

  1. The accused intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused bodily injury to another person; or
  2. intentionally or knowingly threatened another with imminent bodily injury; or
  3. intentionally or knowingly caused physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

As stated, Texas does not have unique laws for battery. Instead, battery is charged under the same statute as assault. 

What are the different types of assault charges in Texas?

There are several different types of assault charges in Texas including:

  • Simple assault. A misdemeanor is punishable by either jail time up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000. Misdemeanor offenses can include threatening someone, hitting someone with your fist, or striking someone with an object.
  • Aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a felony offense and carries more severe penalties than misdemeanor assault. This includes causing serious bodily injury to another person, using a deadly weapon while committing an assault, or assaulting certain protected individuals including police officers and family members.
  • Intoxication assault. Intoxication assault is a charge that can be brought against an individual who causes serious bodily injury to another while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These are just some of the types of assault charges in Texas that may result from an alleged incident of assault. It is important to note that each case will be subject to its own unique circumstances and must be evaluated on its own merits.

Assault and battery punishments in Texas

Battery is charged as assault in Texas, therefore there are only legal specifications regarding the penalties for assault charges in Texas. These punishments vary depending on the severity of the crime and the circumstances surrounding it.

ChargeJail TimeFine
Class C Misdemeanor Simple AssaultN/A$500
Class B Misdemeanor Simple AssaultUp to 180 daysUp to $2,000
Class A Misdemeanor Simple AssaultUp to one yearUp to $4,000
Third-Degree Felony Assault2 – 10 years Up to $10,000
Second-Degree Felony Aggravated Assault2 – 20 yearsUp to $10,000
First-Degree Felony Aggravated Assault5 – 99 years or lifeUp to $10,000

Generally, assault is classified as a Class A misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

However, if one of many aggravating factors is present, such as if the accused had a deadly weapon on them during the incident, then the charge may be upgraded to a third-degree felony, with punishments ranging from two to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Other factors such as the victim’s age or prior criminal history can also affect the sentence handed down in an assault case. An individual charged with assault in Texas should always consult with an experienced assault lawyer in Laredo, TX who can help them understand their legal options and build an effective legal defense.

What are the defenses to assault in Texas?

Due to the severity of penalties associated with assault, it is important for those who have been accused of such an offense to know their legal options. A few potential defenses that may be available include:

  1. Self-defense: The self-defense laws in Texas allow self-defense to be used as a defense against assault charges if an individual can prove that they were acting in order to protect themselves or others from imminent harm.
  2. Lack of intent: In some cases, it may be possible to show that the accused did not act with the intention of causing harm or injury.
  3. Insufficient evidence: If there is insufficient evidence to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, then the individual may be able to have the charges dismissed or reduced. 

The best defense for those facing assault charges in Texas is to hire a Laredo criminal defense attorney who isn’t afraid to go into a court of law and fight for your rights, like Javier Guzman.

Facing assault charges in Texas? You need Javier Guzman as your assault lawyer.

Assault is a serious crime in Texas that can carry severe penalties if convicted. It is crucial for anyone who has been accused of assault in Texas to understand that the clock is ticking. If you’ve been arrested under suspicion of assault you need to hire a lawyer fast so that they can begin building you a strong defense. 

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help develop an effective strategy for defending against charges of assault vs. battery, or specifically assault, in Texas. With the right legal counsel, it is possible to fight back against these charges and protect your rights.

If you’re facing assault charges in Texas, the lawyer you want by your side is Javier Guzman. Javier is a seasoned criminal lawyer in Laredo with experience bringing complex cases to trial and winning.

To schedule a conversation, call Guzman Law Firm at (956) 516-7198 or contact us online today.

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